Monthly Archives: August 2008

“You Don’t Fit” – Fired in DC by Rhee

Ed Notes writes:

“Hello – I just found your website and wanted you know about this website,, sponsored by students and parents in support of a highly successful DC teacher who was dismissed from his 18 year post under Rhee’s regime, with the explanation “you don’t fit.” 

Art Siebens is by all accounts a great teacher, and his students score well on tests. So why was he fired? Neither Rhee nor Wilson’s new principal, Pete Cahall, has offered a complete explanation to Siebens’ fans, including 560 who have signed a petition to bring him back.
“Dr. Siebens was one of those rare teachers at Wilson who really, truly cared about his students,” wrote Devorah Flax-Davidson, 2005 valedictorian now at Michigan. She was “horrified and incensed” that Siebens got the gate.
Siebens isn’t talking – or singing. His supporters are appealing to Fenty and Rhee, but neither will make a move. Clearing up the Siebens debacle falls squarely in the lap of Pete Cahall.

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It’s a teacher-bashing fest in D.C. — but will it improve the schools?

Caroline Grannan – S.F. Education Examiner writes:

It stands to reason that Rhee would disdain experience, since she has almost none herself. She taught through Teach for America for two years in Baltimore schools and claims to have transformed a classroom full of failing students into stellar achievers, though there is no backup or documentation to support this claim. If those students, or her colleagues, have spoken up to confirm her boast, it’s not showing up on Google.

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Molly Redden of The Georgetown Voice writes:

For something as sensitive as childrens’ education, Fenty may have done better to pick a people person, something Rhee is not.She seems to be overly defensive, sometimes without reason. Rhee told Fast Company magazine, “I’m not going to sit on public TV and take a beating I don’t deserve [from the City Council]. I don’t take that crap.”

Even when she drops the potty mouth and attempts to engage the other side in cooperative dialogue, Rhee still seems flippant and impatient.

When WTU and DCPS collaborated to hold contract informational sessions for teachers to lay out the facts of the two-tiered plan, Rhee faced the audience of teachers and community members with a “what-don’t-you-get?” attitude. Asked by a questioner if she would consider “a hybrid system mixing elements of the red and green plan,” she glibly answered, “No. What would that even look like?”

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Advocates Seek More Openness From Rhee’s Regime – Critics Cite ‘Top-Down Approach to Managing’

Michael Birnbaum of The Washington Post writes:

When Michelle A. Rhee came onto the D.C. school scene last year, many advocates expressed optimism that she would shake up the system. Fourteen months later, they say they feel let down. Parents, educators and other advocates say that more centralized control has led to less candor with the public. There are fewer forums in which to express discontent, they say, and people important in implementing Rhee’s ambitious plans — parents, teachers and students — sometimes feel marginalized.

The word “transparency” comes up repeatedly in conversations with advocates: The system doesn’t have much.

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